Archive for the ‘Ecumenical Quakerism’ Category

[blog under construction – I have written a number of related blogs which I will be linking to this blog]

George Fox’s Universalist “Inner Light” teaching has had a deadly effect on Evangelicalism over the years. Two of the most recent big names who seem to have no problem with George Fox’s teaching on this are Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. Foster and Willard both played a huge part in popularizing Spiritual Formation, with its occultish spiritual discipline of contemplative prayer/contemplative spirituality. Interestingly, Foster and Willard co-pastored an Evangelical Friends church, and Foster actually grew up in the Evangelical Friends. Yet Foster and Willard both seem as equally comfortable with non-evangelical universalist Quakers.

I came across the following article, written by Quaker univeralist Samuel J. Chadwick. In the article, he makes a case for uniting Universalism with evangelical Christianity via George Fox’s universalist Inner Light/Inward Light teaching. I do not approve of this article. I am merely providing this article in its entirety to show how destructive George Fox’s Inner Light/Inward Light teaching has been to Evangelicalism. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [bracketing].

The entire article is also found here.

The Inward Light: How Quakerism Unites Universalism and Christianity, by Samuel D. Caldwell

We are all well aware of the long-standing tension in the Religious Society of Friends between Christianity and Universalism. Each pole of this historic tension has had its partisans over time. The Quaker Universalist Fellowship represents one pole of the contemporary debate. Evangelical Friends International [renamed Evangelical Friends Church International] is an example of a group that represents the other. Each side of the debate claims that its own view of Quakerism is the true one, and each side feels that the other side’s position is a negation of its own. Typically, the debate is cast in logically exclusivist terms: if one position is true, then the other must of necessity be false; both cannot possibly be true at the same time.

For my part, I have never accepted the terms in which the debate has been cast. It is my own view that Quakerism is neither exclusively Christian, as some Quaker Christians would have it; nor is it exclusively Universalist, as some Quaker Universalists would have it. The fact is Quakerism has always been a powerful amalgamation of both. My thesis is that not only is it possible to be both Christian and Universalist at the same time, but it has always been the very essence and peculiar genius of Quakerism to join the two in holy matrimony! I wish to explain how this is so.

Let me start with the Universalist side of the equation. What many Christian Quakers fail to understand or accept about the Quaker approach to Christianity is that it is Universalist to the core. Universalism is thoroughly embedded in the Quaker perspective precisely because it is intrinsic to our most central and distinctive religious insight: the principle of the Inner Light.

It is helpful to remind ourselves of the essential core of this important insight. Historically, it is this: God gives to every human being who comes into the world a measure of the divine spirit as a Living Witness and a Light to be inwardly guided by. Those who learn to heed the promptings of this Light within them come to be “saved” – that is, they come into fullness and wholeness of life and right relationship with God, themselves, and one another.

Those who resist, ignore, or otherwise deny the workings of this pure spirit within them, though they make a profession of faith, are “condemned” – that is, they become alienated from God, from themselves, and from one another. The chief end of religious life, therefore, is to hearken to and act in accordance with the promptings of the Inner Light in one’s life.  This description closely parallels George Fox’s original “opening” concerning the Light in 1648, as recorded in his Journal (Nickalls edition, p. 33).

A number of important characteristics of the Light can be readily inferred from this description. First, this Light is “divine” or “supernatural.” That is, it pertains to God and God’s activity. Numerous Friends, among them George Fox and Robert Barclay, have been urgent in cautioning us against confusing the Inner Light with such natural phenomena as reason or conscience, both of which are physically and socially conditioned. Rather, they have emphasized that the Light is God’s eternal and indwelling power resident within our mortal frames, there to enlighten and inform the natural reason and conscience with truth of a higher order.

This Light is personal. It is no mindless, purposeless, undifferentiated force or power. It is the mind and will of God – the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Sarah – who indwells our souls. To claim, as we do, that we are led or taught by the Light is to accept by inference that the power by which we are led or taught is capable of actively leading or teaching us. This requires a personal or theistic conception of the Spirit, which Friends have traditionally held.

This Light is saving. It is the instrument or means by which we are drawn into fullness and wholeness of life and right relationship to God, ourselves, and one another. It is not primarily through the mechanism of assent to certain theological propositions, however heartfelt, nor by participation in certain established rituals, however sincere, that one comes to be “saved” in Quaker faith and practice; it is chiefly through the operation of this Saving Light in human hearts – in the hearing and doing of the Living Word as inwardly revealed in the course of common life.

This Light is eternal. It was before time, is now, and will be forevermore. As the writer of John says, “in the beginning was the Word.” Friends have always identified the Inner Light with this “logos” or Eternal Word [Evangelical Friends however, say, as the book of John says, that this Logos is Jesus Christ the Son of God, not the Inner Light]. It is by this Eternal Light and Word that all of the saints and sages down through the ages have known and spoken the Truth. It is by this Light that the Holy Scriptures of the ages have been written (and must be read). It is by this Light that whatever is true, good, and beautiful has been brought forth in human community over time. This Light is and has always been the source and fountain of all human creativity.

This Light is resistible. It is not an inevitable force or automatic power; it can be resisted, ignored, or otherwise denied in the human heart. To quote C. S. Lewis, “God does not ravish; He only woos.” Although we receive this Light freely and from birth, we are free to choose whether or not and how to respond to its promptings. As someone once remarked, “We are predestinated and foreordained to decide for ourselves!”

This Light is persistent. The Light never ceases to make its Living Witness within each and every human heart, even when it is resisted. Although stubborn resistance and persistent disobedience may greatly dim its luminosity, the Light can never be fully extinguished within us. This is the unfailing love and mercy of God which passes all understanding.

This Light is pure. It is utterly infallible and perfectly good. Although we may err in our discernment of the Light’s witness within us, for any and all who turn to it in humility of heart, the Light is an inerrant guide to truth and wisdom. And, because it is the pure love of God within us, this Light is completely good and trustworthy.

This Light is ineffable. It defies complete and accurate description. Like much in the realm of spirit, the Light cannot be completely understood, but it can be experienced and known.

Lastly, and perhaps most important to the present discussion, this Light is unequivocally universal. It is freely given by God to each and every human being who comes into the world, regardless of race, sex, nationality, philosophical orientation, religious creed, or station in life. It is the divine birthright and inheritance of all, not the privileged possession of a few. To paraphrase the scripture, it is the Good News of God “preached to every creature under heaven” (Colossians 1:23).

Now it can readily be seen from these characteristics that the Quaker concept of the Inner Light is radically universalist in its thrust. As such, it offers a strong challenge to many of the exclusivist assumptions of conventional Christian faith. Here is where the tension between Christianity and Universalism in Quakerism begins to be felt.

It is hard to overstate, for instance, how radically different the Quaker view of salvation is from the popular Christian conception. According to our understanding of the Inner Light, any person of whatever religious persuasion, who turns in sincerity of heart to the Divine Light within, and lives in accordance with its promptings, will be saved. All of God’s children, Christians and non-Christians alike, have equal access to salvation through the Light.

This view constitutes an outright denial of the exclusivist Christian assumption that salvation comes only to those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and participate in certain established rituals of the Church. One need not be a professing Christian, in other words, to be saved; and many who are professing Christians are (apparently) not saved.

Similarly, Quaker Universalism challenges the now-prevalent evangelical Christian view that the Holy Spirit “comes into one’s heart,” presumably from outside, at the moment of conversion. Friends have testified throughout their history that this Holy Spirit is already resident as a Divine Seed in every human heart, waiting to be decisively accepted and nurtured through attentive obedience in daily life. This difference in viewpoint explains the real distinction between Quaker “convincement” and evangelical “conversion. ”

[Evangelical Friends Church International (EFCI) today tends to explain away this Inner Light as being the Holy Spirit.  This is in direct contradiction to a statement made in 1877-1879 by one of its own regions, the Ohio Yearly Meeting (Gurneyite) – now the EFC-ER. The Ohio Yearly Meeting (Gurneyite) was the only Quaker yearly meeting ever to condemn George Fox’s Inner Light teaching. Also, the EFCI’s definition of the Inner Light as the Holy Spirit flies in the face of the previous paragraph, which explains clearly that the Inner Light is vastly different from the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit.]

Salvation and conversion are not the only fronts on which Quaker Universalism challenges conventional Christianity. From the beginning, for instance, Friends have vociferously challenged the fundamentalist Christian assumption that the Bible is the Word of God, insisting instead that the Holy Spirit, the Christ Within, is the Word of God. The Bible is a declaration of the fountain; it is not the fountain itself The fountain is Christ, the Living Word. George Fox argued disarmingly that, if the Bible were really the Word of God, then one could buy and sell the Word of God and carry it around in one’s pocket!

In a similar vein, the Quaker doctrine of “continuing revelation,” which says that God continues to reveal Truth to those who have ears to hear, directly challenges the fundamentalist Christian belief that God’s revelation was completed when the books of the biblical canon were finalized by the Church.

Quaker Universalism also challenges the conventional Christian definition of the Church, insisting that the Church is not a building. Nor is it an identifiable group of confessing Christians. It is, rather, the universal fellowship of all those persons, of whatever background or persuasion, who know and live in accordance with the Living Witness of God’s Light within them. Unlike the standard Christian definition, the Quaker definition of the Church embraces non-Christians, and even theoretically excludes professing Christians who have no real inward, life-changing experience of God. [Now this is a contradiction if every I’ve seen one. How can any non-Christian ever have a “real inward, life-changing experience of God”?]

These few examples should make it clear how deeply-rooted and fundamental the Universalist perspective is in Quakerism, and how profoundly, in turn, this perspective affects the Quaker approach to Christianity – so much so that Quakerism takes a strongly prophetic stance over and against a number of widely accepted interpretations of Christian faith.

It should also be clear, however, that Quaker Universalism, as we have described it here, has little or nothing to do with that brand of eclectic, humanist philosophy called “universalism” that is so prevalent in liberal Quaker circles today. This sort of pseudo-universalism – “pseudo” because it bears a superficial resemblance to Quaker Universalism, but is really contrary to it in a number of crucial ways – poses such an insidious threat to the true Quaker view that I would like to spend a few moments describing in more detail how the two are different.

[I must admit, in the following paragraphs, the author does a good job of condemning “pseudo-universalism” – what I would call Unitarian Universalism.]

While Quaker Universalism is strongly religious in content and devotional in orientation, pseudo-universalism typically maintains a pronounced philosophical detachment from all religious traditions (especially, as we shall see, from Christianity). Unlike Quaker Universalism, which calls for a faith commitment to a specific religious path, pseudo-universalism teaches non-adherence to any particular religion at all, referring a kind of smorgasbord approach to religious ideas instead.

Quaker Universalism acknowledges the differences between the major religions of the world, but calls them all to the same universal standard of Truth: the Living Witness of God within. Pseudo-universalism often ignores, trivializes and obfuscates the real differences between world religions, claiming that “all religions are essentially the same.” In effect, it denies all religions by affirming all equally and embracing none.

While Quaker Universalism is a specific religious path that leads the seeker toward transformation and salvation, pseudo-universalism institutionalizes seeking and is highly suspicious of finding in religious life. Partly because it considers the major religions of the world to be primitive (and therefore false?), and partly because it is highly intellectual in orientation, pseudo-universalism discourages the sort of existential faith commitment that is essential for real spiritual growth and transformation. It offers no genuine spiritual path of its own, while discouraging its adherents from embarking on any established path.

Because it is a view of religion and not a religion itself, and because it accepts no particular religious tradition as normative, pseudo-universalism has within it no principle whereby it can discriminate between what is true and what is false in any particular religious view. To what standard, for instance, would pseudo-universalism appeal regarding a membership application from an avowed practitioner of the religion of Satanism? Quaker Universalism, on the other hand, is founded on the premise that there is one true principle of discernment, and that is the Inner Light. In addition, as we shall see momentarily, although Quaker Universalism radically challenges Christianity at many points, it also has historically accepted Jesus Christ and the gospel tradition as normative for faithful living. [Yes and no. Quaker Univeralists profess Jesus as “Teacher and Lord,” but not as “Lord and Saviour.” In another blog, I quoted a liberal Friends General Conference fellow who sang, “I’m not a Christian but I’m a Quaker, I’ve got Christ’s Inner Light but he’s not my Saviour.” What an abomination.]

Lastly, while Quaker Universalism is firmly rooted in the Christian tradition (albeit not always comfortable with it), pseudo-universalism often acts as a smoke screen for anti-Christian sentiment. In my conversations with Friends who have been influenced by this kind of universalism, I frequently encounter significant discomfort with, if not open hostility to, Christians and the Christian faith. This, of course, is in direct contradiction to their own professed principles. To this sort of universalist, it seems, all religions are equal except Christianity!

Perhaps you have heard of H. L. Mencken’s famous definition of a “puritan” as someone who is obsessed with the fear that somehow, somewhere, someone is having fun? The pseudo-universalist is one who is obsessed with the fear that somehow, somewhere, someone has “gotten religion,” especially the Christian religion.

As you can see, the two types of universalism, while similar on the surface, are as different as night and day. It is easy to see why pseudo-universalism is uncomfortable with the practice of Christianity. The two are philosophically incompatible. True Quaker Universalism, however, has a uniquely symbiotic relationship with Christianity. And this brings us to the Christian side of the equation.

If I did not make the Christian party happy with my remarks on Quaker Universalism, it is certain that I will not make the Quaker Universalist party happy with my remarks on Christianity. As we have seen, Christian Quakers have to accept the fact that Quakerism is radically universalist in its interpretation of Christianity. Universalist Quakers, on the other hand, have to accept the fact that Quakerism is radically Christian in its interpretation of Universalism. For, the truth is that, despite its somewhat testy relationship with conventional Christianity, Quakerism is and always has been decidedly Christian.

We have already sketched how the Quaker view of Christianity is distinctively Universalist. How is the Quaker view of Universalism distinctively Christian? It is really quite simple: Friends have always identified the Inner Light with the living Christ. Christ, in Quaker theology, is the Light [but non-evangelical Quakers do not believe that we are saved by accepting Christ as our Saviour]. “There is One, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition,” said the voice to George Fox at the moment of his convincement [notice again that the author uses the term “convincement” – which is vastly different from “conversion”]. And this Christ Jesus, Fox perceived and subsequently preached, was the Eternal Risen Christ, the Light of the World, come to teach all people who would hear his voice, not just professing Christians. To be Quaker is to be a follower of Christ, Who witnesses Within each one of us as we walk through life.

This strict equivalency of Christ with the Inner Light is the key to understanding how it is that Christianity and Universalism are so inextricably bound together in Quaker faith and practice. Not only is it possible to be both Christian and Universalist at the same time; it is the very essence and peculiar genius of Quakerism to marry the two in one powerful synthesis through the doctrine of the Inner Light. In the final analysis, the Quaker doctrine of the Inner Light is really a radically Universalist interpretation of the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit. To be Quaker is, therefore, to be radically Christian.

As a result of this unique marriage that Quakerism has effected, the quintessentially exclusivist text of the Christian faith – “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes unto the Father except by me” (John 14:6) – is transformed into a powerful Universalist message for the whole world. Friends have witnessed for 350 years that the Light of Christ Within is indeed the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to God except by it. This Light is the universal, saving, eternal, personal, resistible, persistent, and pure witness of God within every human heart, and no one is excluded from partaking of its riches. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, “Christ has returned, and everyone is invited to the reception!”

And, how fortunate for both Christianity and Universalism that Quakerism has joined them together. Fully embedded in the context of Christianity, Quaker Universalism is richly informed by all of the pregnant imagery and profound meaning of the Judeo-Christian tradition and the transforming story of Jesus Christ. In the Quaker synthesis, Christianity saves Universalism from the vapid sterility of mere abstraction. Universalism, in turn, saves Christianity from the spiritual poison of religious parochialism and exclusivity. The two not only complement each other, they are essential to one another.

In the end, the marriage metaphor we have been using is not very satisfactory, for it implies a kind of voluntary association that is not applicable here. The union of Christianity and Universalism in Quakerism is one of mutual entailment – more like two sides of one coin than like a marriage. Friends on both sides of the discussion need to face the fact that divorce is out of the question. Quakerism is, by definition, both Universalist and Christian at the same time.

After reading the above defense of Quaker universalism – and the damage the Inner Light teaching has done to evangelical Christianity – how could any member of the Evangelical Friends Church International (EFCI) accept or fellowship with non-evangelical universalist Quaker denominations?

Amazingly, the EFCI is proud of its Quaker ecumenism with all non-evangelical Quaker groups. If we dig beneath the surface, we find that non-evangelical Quakers have many ungodly beliefs and practices – everything from universalist Quakers to LGBT Quakers to atheist Quakers to Buddhist Quakers.

There is no way around it. To insist on ecumenism with non-evangelical Quaker groups is, in essence, to endorse the heresies of these non-evangelical Quaker groups. Leaders in the EFCI who insist on Quaker ecumenism know very well the heresies of these non-evangelical groups, yet they still proclaim “let the conversation continue.” What an abomination!

Edward Mott, one of my favorite fundamentalist Evangelical Friends, warned against Quaker ecumenism. Tragically, Quakers eventually ignored the warnings of Mott and others, developing ecumenical ties with non-evangelical Quakers. Click here for my blog about Edward Mott, in which I included the following quote:

“Edward Mott, who was a leading minister and teacher in [Northwest Yearly Meeting] for many years earlier in [the twentieth century], strongly and bitterly opposed any moves toward ecumenical contacts or fellowship among what were then much more fragmented groups of Friends. In his memoir, Sixty Years of Gospel Ministry, published in the late 1940s, he insisted, as he had for decades, that such efforts “cannot have the blessing of the Lord upon them.” In fact, he insisted that “The attempt to fellowship and work with unbelievers [which is what he considered other Friends to be–Ed.] spells death. Any conclusion to the contrary is ruinous to all concerned.”

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(revised 08/14/12)

I have been researching the Quaker heresy of the “Inner Light.”  Many believe George Fox came up with this mystic concept (although he used wording slightly different from the “Inner Light”). On the contrary, the concept existed in world religions and in philosophy long before Fox (I hope to write more on this in future blogs).

In another blog I critiqued the Inner Light beliefs of non-evangelical Quakers. The following little chorus helps presents a clear picture of heresy in the Inner Light teaching. Here is the pertinent YouTube video. The congregation seems to be entertained by the singer, yet I found the following excerpt from the lyrics to be almost blasphemous (click on “show more” below the video to view the lyrics):

I’m not a Christian but I’m a Quaker
I’ve got Christ’s inner light but he’s not my savior…
Now I’m a liberal Friend
That means F-G-C… [Friends General Conference]
[emphasis mine][The above phrases are sung not once, but three times during the song – shocking.]

Born again Christians vary in their views of George Fox and the early Quakers. Some (such as fundamentalist evangelical Quaker Edward Mott – one of my favorites) hold a positive view. Namely they feel that up until the late 1700s, the Quakers were wonderful, born again Christian evangelists, and that Fox’s “Inner Light” teaching was secondary to their biblically sound beliefs. Others believe these Quakers were unsaved, heretical mystics from the get-go, and that the Inner Light teaching was primary, causing huge doctrinal problems in the Quaker movement immediately. Obviously, all we have to go on are the original writings of George Fox, William Barclay, etc. And these writings are interpreted in different ways by writers, theologians, etc.  –  often depending on their personal doctrinal beliefs.

Of the two contrasting views above, I take the view that Fox’s teaching was heretical and demonic from the get-go. The fact that Fox even came up with the Inner Light teaching shows his incredibly gross misinterpretation of Scriptures such as John 1:9 (see below). Nowhere does the Bible state specifically that there is “that of God in every man” – i.e. that God is in every man and woman.

It is significant that Fox believed we need neither preachers nor God’s Word the Bible , but that  we can receive revelation from God directly. This flies in the face of God’s Word itself, which states:

14) How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  15) And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!  16) But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?  17) So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God18) But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. (Rom. 10:14-18, KJV)

Why did Fox so eagerly grasp at straws in claiming John 1:9 referred to an “Inner Light” (see below) – yet ignore the clearly stated verses above? There should be no question as the meaning of Rom. 10:14-18.

Fox laments that, in essence, he heard no preachers present the true Word of God. But was this the case? Was Fox not exposed to any born again, bibical preachers with the gospel message of salvation through Jesus Christ (John Chapter 3)? I am researching this.

It would be interesting to find out if Fox was influenced by other teachers and writers of his time period. (I read somewhere that there were contemporaries of Fox who were teaching similar heresies.)

I have located various Christian articles criticizing the “Inner Light” concept as taught by George Fox.  I am providing this Wikipedia article, not because I agree with non-evangelical Quaker positions on the Inner Light. I am providing this Wikipedia info merely for born again Christians to research the non-evangelical positions on this.

I found this Wikipedia article on the “Inner Light” to be very interesting. The article is not without its errors, however (click on the “Discussion” tab above the article to see some of the errors in the article). Also, looking at the article footnotes, you will see that the sources are non-evangelical, thus the article is one-sided.

Following you will find the Wikipedia article, copied almost verbatim. Note, in case you are wondering – I checked Wikipedia’s copyright rules – Wikipedia allows users to copy content. I have emphasized certain points by bolding and [bracketing]:

Inner Light
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Inner Light is a concept which many Quakers, members of the Religious Society of Friends, use to express their conscience, faith and beliefs. Each Quaker has a different idea of what they mean by “inner light”, and this also varies internationally between Yearly Meetings, but the idea is often taken to refer to God’s presence within a person, and to a direct and personal experience of God. [Non-evangelical] Quakers believe that God speaks to everyone, and that in order to hear God’s voice, it helps to be still and actively listen for it.

This is often done in meeting for worship; Pierre Lacout, in Quaker Faith and Practice, described a “silence which is active” causing the Inner Light to “glow”.[1]

They believe not only that individuals can be guided by this Inner Light, but that Friends might meet together and receive collective guidance from God by sharing the concerns and leadings that he gives to individuals.[2] In a Friends meeting it is usually called “ministry” when a person shares aloud what the Inner Light is saying to him or her.

Related terms for Inner Light include Light of God, Light of Christ, Christ within, Spirit of God within us, and Light within. These are often used interchangeably by modern and arguably early Friends. Some people also identify it with the expression “that of God in everyone,” which was first used by one of the co-founders of the Society of Friends, George Fox.

The related term Inward Light appears in older Quaker writings, but is not used as often now. Originally, Inward Light was used much more often than Inner Light.[3] This term evokes an image of people being illuminated by the light of God or Christ, rather than having a light of their own inside them. The terms are now often used interchangeably.


Quaker belief in the Inner Light extends back to founder George Fox.

The Quaker belief that an Inner Light resides in each person is based in part on a passage from the New Testament, namely John 1:9, which says, “That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” [Non-evangelical] Friends [incorrectly] emphasize the part of the verse that [supposedly] indicates that every person is born with the Light within him or her. [I cannot emphasize enough here – the Inner Light is not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit indwells born again believers only – not every man and woman that is born.] Early Friends took this verse as one of their mottoes and often referred to themselves as “Children of the Light.”

The principal founder of what became the Religious Society of Friends, George Fox, claimed that he had a direct experience of God. Having explored various sects and listened to an assortment of preachers, he finally concluded that none of them were adequate to be his ultimate guide. At that point he reported hearing a voice that told him, “There is one, even Jesus Christ, that can speak to thy condition.” He felt that God wanted him to teach others that they need not depend on human teachers or guides either, because each one of them could experience God directly and hear his voice within. [I’m wondering, did George Fox hear a voice telling him every person could experience God directly? If so, this would seem to me to be a demonic message to George Fox. The Bible says to avoid “doctrines of demons.” Looking at the incredible damage the Inner Light teaching has caused to Christendom, this certainly could be considered a “doctrine of demons.”]  He wrote in his journal, “I was glad that I was commanded to turn people to that inward light, spirit, and grace, by which all might know their salvation, and their way to God; even that divine Spirit which would lead them into all Truth, and which I infallibly knew would never deceive any.”[4] Fox taught: that Christ, the Light, had come to teach his people himself; that “people had no need of any teacher but the Light that was in all men and women” (the anointing they had received);[4] if people would be silent, waiting on God, the Light would teach them how to conduct their lives, teach them about Christ, show them the condition of their hearts; they loving the Light, it would rid them of the “cause of sin”; and soon after, Christ would return in his glory to establish his Kingdom in their hearts. Fox called the Light destroying sin within as the Cross of Christ, the Power of God.

Regarding this, Fox wrote, “Now ye that know the power of God and are come to it—which is the Cross of Christ, that crucifies you to the state that Adam and Eve were in in the fall, and so to the world—by this power of God ye come to see the state they were in before they fell, which power of God is the Cross, in which stands the everlasting glory; which brings up into the righteousness, holiness and image of God, and crucifies to the unrighteousness, unholiness and image of Satan.” The Cross is no “dead fact stranded on the shore of the oblivious years,” but is to be a living experience deep in the heart of the believer, and changing his whole life. “You that know the power and feel the power, you feel the Cross of Christ, you feel the Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” All real experience of the Cross must lead, he thought, to the same way of life that brought the Master there— to the way of humility and non-resistance, of overcoming evil by the sole force of love and goodness. To Fox it seemed that a high profession of Christianity often went with a way of life in flagrant opposition to this. He writes to the persecutors: “Your fruits have manifested that you are not of this (wisdom from above); and so out of the power of God which is the Cross of Christ; for you are found in the world, out of the power of God, out of the Cross of Christ, persecuting.”[5]

Later, Robert Barclay, an apologist for the Society of Friends, wrote: “This most certain doctrine being then received, that there is an evangelical and saving Light and grace in all, the universality of the love and mercy of God towards mankind, both in the death of his beloved Son the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the manifestation of the Light in the heart, is established and confirmed, against all the objections of such as deny it.” As the quotations demonstrate, both Barclay and Fox connected the Light not only with an experiential knowledge of God but with the grace and mercy that leads to salvation from sin and acceptance by God.


Based on the teachings of Fox, Barclay, and other respected leaders, the liberal branches of the Society of Friends subscribe, in one form or another, to Universalism. Some Friends today subscribe to Christian Universalism, which is the belief that all people are already saved from sin, or eventually will be saved from it, through the death of Jesus and the presence of His Spirit within. In other words, because the Light is within everyone, nobody will end up condemned to hell. Other Friends, such as the Quaker Universalist Group, go further and believe in Universalism in the broader sense. They believe that people need not acknowledge Jesus Christ at all – that people of any faith or even no faith are indwelt by the Light and therefore do not need to be saved. A third segment of the Society of Friends, Evangelical Friends, are not universalists. They believe that all people have the Light within them and have the possibility of being saved, but that only those who avail themselves of the Light and accept the salvation provided by Jesus Christ actually are saved. [As a birthright member of the  Ohio Yearly Meeting (Gurneyite), I can say this is not what evangelical Friends have traditionally believed.  The Ohio Yearly Meeting, which now belongs to  today’s  EFCI denomination, condemned the Inner Light teaching in 1877-1879. Unfortunately, today the EFCI seems to be placating non-evangelical Quaker denominations with which it has ecumenical ties. Specifically, the EFCI has relegated this very serious Inner Light controversy to the place of a non-issue.]

Contrast with other inner sources

It is important to note that many Friends consider this divine guidance (or “promptings” or “leadings of the Spirit“) distinct both from impulses originating within oneself and from generally agreed-on moral guidelines. In fact, as Marianne McMullen pointed out, a person can be prompted to say something in meeting that is contrary to what he or she thinks.[6] In other words, Friends do not usually consider the Inner Light the conscience or moral sensibility but something higher and deeper that informs and sometimes corrects these aspects of human nature.

Contrast with rules and creeds

Historically, Friends have been suspicious of formal creeds or religious philosophy that is not grounded in one’s own experience. Instead one must be guided by the Inward Teacher, the Inner Light. This is not, however, a release for Friends to decide and do whatever they want; it is incumbent upon Friends to consider the wisdom of other Friends, as one must listen for the Inner Light of others as well as their own. Friends have various established procedures for collectively discerning and following the Spirit while making decisions.

Friends procedure is to collect together their best advice in a book of “Faith and Practice,” which is revised gradually over time. Many or most books of Faith and Practice contain the following, which was originally attached to a list of “Advices” published in 1656, and illustrates Friends’ emphasis on the Inner Light:

Dearly beloved Friends, these things we do not lay upon you as a rule or form to walk by, but that all, with the measure of light which is pure and holy, may be guided: and so in the light walking and abiding, these may be fulfilled in the Spirit, not from the letter, for the letter [the Bible?] killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.[7]

In the Bible

Friends are not in complete agreement on the importance of the Inner Light in relation to the Bible. Most Friends, especially in the past, have looked to the Bible as a source of wisdom and guidance [I would not say this is necessarily true – over the last few centuries, some Quaker denominations have consistently revered and respected the Bible less than others]. Many, if not most of them, have considered the Bible a book inspired by God. [Again, I would not say most considered the Bible as inspired.] But [non-evangelical] Quakers have generally tended to regard present, personal direction from God more authoritative than the text of the Bible. [Those studying Spiritual Formation should see a similarity between Contemplative Prayer/Contemplative Spirituality and the Inner Light. Both are extra-biblical. In both, one can receive direction revelation of so-called “Truth” from God, apart from God’s Word the Bible.] Early Quakers, like George Fox and Robert Barclay, did not believe that promptings which were truly from the Spirit within would contradict the Bible. They did, however, believe that to correctly understand the Bible, one needed the Inner Light  to clarify it and guide one in applying its teachings to current situations [if this statement is referring to the Inner Light as anything other than the Holy Spirit here, it is heretical]. In the United States [starting] in the nineteenth century some Friends concluded that others of their faith were using the concept of the Inner Light to justify unbiblical views. These “Orthodox” Friends held that the Bible was more authoritative than the Inner Light and should be used to test personal leadings [this is the branch of Quakers I grew up in – the Evangelical Friends, now the EFCI denomination]. Friends remain formally, but usually respectfully, divided on the matter.


  1. ^ Pierre Lacout (1969). “Quaker Faith and Practice; Chapter 2 – Silent Waiting”. Britain Yearly Meeting. Retrieved 2008-03-26. “In silence which is active, the Inner Light begins to glow – a tiny spark…”
  2. ^ Britain Yearly Meeting (1994). “Quaker Faith and Practice (Third edition) – Advices and Queries”. Britain Yearly Meeting. Retrieved 2008-03-26. “We can worship alone, but when we join with others in expectant waiting we may discover a deeper sense of God’s presence.”
  3. ^ Richard Vann. “Review of Rosemary Moore, The Light in Their Consciences: The Early Quakers in Britain 1646-1666,” H-Albion, H-Net Reviews, July, 2001.
  4. ^ a b Quotes by George Fox in his journal
  5. ^ Edward Grubb (1925). “Quaker Thought & History; Chapter 1 – George Fox and Christian Theology”. The MacMillan Company. Retrieved 2008-12-17. “Now ye that know the power of God and are come to it— which is the Cross of Christ…”
  6. ^ Margaret Hope Bacon, 1986
  7. ^ NY Yearly Meeting on FaithExternal links
Wikisource has the text of a 1920 Encyclopedia Americana article about Inner light.

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(revised 09/11/14)

Members of the EFCI may be shocked to find that, in 1993, there was talk  underway of possibly realigning the FUM. If that had taken place, it is very likely the FUM and EFCI would have merged.

Here is what’s so shocking to me about this “near-event.” Although they may describe themselves as evangelical, the FUM is not an evangelical denomination. The many differences between the FUM and the EFCI can be seen in a detailed history of the FUM.

Still, of all Quaker denominations, the FUM is probably the nearest in theology to EFCI.  In a nutshell, here is a listing of several Quaker denominations and their theologies:

EFCI – evangelical (I would say it is becoming “progressive evangelical”)
FUM – “middle-of-the-road”
FGC – liberal

Following are two more groups of North American Quakers:


There are other Quaker denominations as well, but the above five are the major groups/denominations.

Back to my point: in 1993 the FUM apparently came very close to merging with the traditionally evangelical EFCI. Was the EFCI opposed to this? Or, on the contrary, was the EFCI open to this?

Following are some excerpts from an article describing the FUM “Realignment Controversy” in the early 1990s. The entire article can be viewed by clicking on the title of the following article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding and [bracketing]:

Realignment Among North American Friends?
by Bill Samuel
Originally published August 1, 2000 at Suite101.com

The Realignment Debate and FUM’s Direction

The 1990-93 Triennium of Friends United Meeting (FUM) was marked by an energetic debate over a possible “realignment” among Friends and the fallout from that debate. Stephen Main, FUM General Secretary, early in the Triennium began speaking out calling for such a realignment. Main saw a real problem in the lack of true unity in FUM on the centrality of Jesus Christ because of the many Friends in the united yearly meetings who didn’t share this understanding of the Quaker faith.

Main saw [FUM] Friends as being basically in two camps. One camp was strongly centered in Jesus Christ and committed to spreading the Christian gospel. The other camp was “universalist” in approach, and accepting of other spiritual paths as being equally valid as the Christian path. Main felt that each camp could be most effective if it was united in working from its perspective, and not trying to bridge the gap between the two perspectives. He saw the presence of universalist Friends from the united yearly meetings in the basically Christ-centered FUM as being divisive and eroding FUM’s effectiveness. [Interesting. In a supposedly non-evangelical Quaker denomination, a Secretary was taking a biblical stance and opposing universalists!]

Structurally, the realignment position suggested the joining together of Evangelical Friends International (EFI) and Christ-centered FUM Friends into one association. Universalist Friends would not fit into this association, potentially resulting in splits within some of the yearly meetings affiliated with FUM. Only one FUM yearly meeting minuted support for realignment, and a number of yearly meetings expressed strong opposition. Main wound up resigning before the end of his three-year term. [Hmmm, interesting – and sad. It sounds almost as if Main was a “lone ranger” in standing up for biblical Truth.]

Although the idea of realignment did not obtain widespread support within FUM at that time, the issue did prompt major attention to examining the purpose of FUM. The resulting discernment process led to FUM adopting the following purpose statement in 1993:

Friends United Meeting commits itself to energize and equip Friends through the power of the Holy Spirit to gather people into fellowships where Jesus Christ is known, loved and obeyed as Teacher and Lord.

[Warning – the FUM phrase “Teacher and Lord” is a phrase used by non-born again, non-evangelical Quakers. It should throw up a big red flag. Among EFCI Quakers who still proudly proclaim themselves as born again, the phrase “Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord” would be usedSaviour being the key word. In my lifetime, I have never heard anyone in the EFC-ER (my Region of the EFCI) refer to Jesus Christ as “Teacher and Lord”.

Also note: an FUM realignment would have resulted in part of the FUM perhaps merging with the evangelical EFCI, and the other part likely becoming more “Quaker universalist”. Instead, the entire FUM remained intact. By rejecting any realignment, the entire FUM in essence chose to remain staunchly non-born again/non-evangelical.]

The Picture Since FUM’s 1993 Purpose Statement

The FUM General Secretary appointed after Main’s resignation, Johan Maurer, resigned that position this year to join the pastoral team at an EFI church [interesting – and scary – the FUM emphasizes the Inner Light over being born again, yet Maurer joined the pastor team of a “born again” EFI church]. In a closing message to the FUM community, Maurer noted, “Eventually it will make sense for Friends United Meeting and Evangelical Friends International to merge…” (Quaker Life, July/August 2000, page 4) While he did not use the term realignment and did not address the broader issues raised by such a possible merger, it seems to me his assessment brings back to the public arena the concerns raised by his predecessor.

The approach taken by FUM was to be unambiguously Christ-centered and evangelical [evangelical? – I don’t think so], while allowing room for the united yearly meetings which don’t themselves take that stance to remain active in FUM. Those yearly meetings have remained in FUM, and do not appear to have done anything overtly to challenge the stance of FUM. But beyond that, how successful has FUM been with this approach?

In its World Ministries work, the work outside North America, this approach has had some success. FUM has greatly increased the number of field staff abroad, whose support largely comes from earmarked contributions. After many years of fairly steady-state operations, this is noteworthy. But FUM still is not opening up new areas for planting churches like Evangelical Friends Mission (the missions arm of EFI) has done.

In its work in North America, the picture has been somewhat grim. FUM has had serious problems raising money for its regular budget, out of which most of this work is funded. It has faced a series of budget and staff reductions. Directly related to the newly declared purpose, FUM tried to start a program to help people plant new meetings/churches. But that fell victim to resource problems. Now FUM tells people that they must look to local or yearly meetings for this support. But the united yearly meetings generally aren’t involved, and are unlikely to become involved, in starting the kinds of meetings/churches described in FUM’s purpose statement. FUM now takes an approach focused on networking among constituent yearly meetings rather than FUM programs themselves in its North American work. This means that the extent to which FUM’s purpose statement actually translates to activity varies enormously in areas where FUM-affiliated yearly meetings operate.

The Future of North American Friends

There are real obstacles to organizational realignment that, to the best of my knowledge, nobody has yet come up with good ways to overcome. Most notably, we have the issue of the united yearly meetings which generally lean more to the universalist end of the spectrum, but which contain individuals and sometimes meetings which are oriented towards FUM’s purpose. How do we avoid leaving those Christ-centered Friends hanging out there, without solid ties to a larger grouping that shares their vision? [Interesting – it appears there are various “concerned” Quakers who I could network with to various degrees in forming “confessing ministries.”] I agree with the implication in Maurer’s statement that organizational realignment will not come quickly. But I think leaders among Friends need to keep this question in their minds so that some way forward may emerge. And I also think that the movement, while not very visible as well as being tender and small, towards independent worship groups and meetings centered on Christ within the geographical confines of the united yearly meetings may wind up playing a significant role in how this all works out in the next couple of decades.
These events occurred 18 years ago. What are the associations, the conferences, the transfer of pastors now between the EFC-ER, the other EFCI Regions, and all the non-evangelical Quaker denominations?

Click here for a history of FUM crises between 1988-2008.

Fortunately, the FUM and EFCI did not merge. But that is not the end of the story. The FUM and EFCI still maintain many close ties. For example, representatives (denominational leaders, and pastors) from the EFCI meet at various gatherings with representatives from other Quaker denominations on a regular basis (annually, triannually, etc.). To me this is unacceptable. Why does the EFCI, a supposedly evangelical denomination, meet at all with non-evangelical Quaker denominations? It seems that the bond with other Quakers (no matter what their theology) is more important to the EFCI than the bond of fellowship between born again believers.

I will provide more details on intra-Quaker associations as I locate them. I believe this is something born again members of the EFCI should keep a close eye on and be very concerned about.

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(revised 09/11/14)

I am proud to have been brought up in the born again, separatist fundamentalist, Wesleyan Holiness tradition, in the only Quaker Yearly Meeting which (to my knowledge) has ever condemned George Fox’s “Inner Light” teaching. Namely, Ohio Yearly Meeting (OYM) (Gurneyite), in 1877-1879.

Yet, today, many in the OYM (now called the Evangelical Friends Church-Eastern Region aka EFC-ER) and apparently consider this a non-issue. Plus,  more and more churches in the EFC-ER are drifting away from Wesleyan Holiness teachings and entertaining Postmodern aka Emerging/Emergent views. But I digress – in this blog I am focusing on the issue of George Fox’s “Inner Light”.

For all intents and purposes, all non-evangelical Quaker denominations today have one teaching in common: George Fox’s mystic, heretical teaching of “the Inner Light.” (Forms of this teaching actually existed before George Fox – more on this in another blog).

The “Inner Light” means different things to different Quaker denominations. Some individuals in the Evangelical Friends Church International aka EFCI (of which the EFC-ER is a part) seem to be “pulling one over” on the remaining born again, biblically sound Evangelical Friends by saying “the Inner Light is the indwelling Holy Spirit.”  But taken to its logical conclusion, this is like comparing apples with oranges. The Holy Spirit does not dwell in every human being. The Holy Spirit does not reside in unregenerate individuals. Therefore the Holy Spirit cannot be “the Inner Light”, “the light of Christ in every man” that George Fox taught.

There are many aspects of the “Inner Light” teaching I could discuss, but I will only cover one aspect here. Non-evangelical Quakers who strongly hold to the “Inner Light” teaching reject the teaching of Jesus as our Saviour, redeeming us through “The Blood and The Cross” (as per John Chapter 3).

For example, I stumbled across a pertinent YouTube video while Googling for videos on Quakers. The congregation seems to be entertained by the singer, yet I found the following excerpt from the lyrics to be almost blasphemous (click here to view all the lyrics):

I’m not a Christian but I’m a Quaker
I’ve got Christ’s inner light but he’s not my savior…
Now I’m a liberal Friend
That means F-G-C… [Friends General Conference]
[emphasis mine][The above phrases are sung not once, but three times during the song – shocking.]

A member of the FGC maintaining he is not a Christian, but a Quaker? I guess this shouldn’t surprise me – there are also Universalist Quakers, nontheist (atheist) Quakers, and Quakers of many other heretical stripes.

And as mentioned previously, all non-evangelical Quakers today seem to believe in some form of “Inner Light” teaching. Question: do Convergent Friends hope to unite all these types of Quakers with evangelical (EFCI) Quakers? If so, we are truly headed towards a “Unitarian Universalist” Quakerism.

Having grown up in what is now the EFCI, I know that most Evangelical Friends/Quakers consider the “Inner Light” teaching a minor part of their heritage – if they know of the “Inner Light” teaching at all. This is not true of non-evangelical Quakers.

Check out the following excerpts, from an article on the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) at Religion Resources Online.org. I have emphasized certain points by bolding and [bracketing]:

The theological beliefs of different Yearly Meetings vary considerably, ranging from evangelical Christianity to universalist and new thought beliefs. Some Yearly Meetings (especially those in parts of the US and Africa affiliated to Friends United Meeting) consider Christ their teacher and Lord. Other yearly meetings (especially those in parts of the US, Asia and Central America which are affiliated to Evangelical Friends Church International) regard Christ as their Lord and savior. Other yearly meetings, especially those in parts of the US which are affiliated to the wider fellowship of conservative Friends, trust in the immediate guidance of an inward Christ [the Inner Light]. There is often a large variety of theological belief in some other yearly meetings (often termed liberal yearly meetings such as those in parts of the US affiliated to Friends General Conference, many yearly meetings in Europe and Australia/New Zealand and the Beanite yearly meetings in western United States), with meetings often having a large proportion of liberal Christians and universalist Christians some of whom trust in the guidance of an inward Christ or inner light, with some non-theists, agnostics, and, as well as some who are also members of other religions, although even amongst liberal yearly meetings this is controversial. Common ideas among members of these liberal Yearly Meetings include a belief of “that of God in everyone”, and shared values (such as to peace, equality and simplicity).

The predominant theological beliefs of different Yearly Meetings do not tally exactly with the style of service, but there is often some co-relation, with many Yearly Meetings that hold programmed worship having more evangelical theological beliefs, and those with unprogrammed worship tending to have more liberal theological beliefs.

Modern Friends, particularly those in the liberal Yearly Meetingss, often express their beliefs in many ways, including the attitude of trying to see or appeal to “[the light] of God in everyone”; finding and relating to “the Inner light”, “the inward Christ”, or “the spirit of Christ within.” Early Friends more often used terms such as “Truth”, “the Seed”, and “the Pure Principle”, from the idea that each person would be transformed as Christ formed and grew in them. The intention to “see the light” or see “that of God in everyone” is an effort in Quakers to cast aside more superficial differences and focus on the good that they believe all people have in common.

Unlike other Christian denominations, some branches of Quakerism completely reject all forms of religious symbolism and outward sacraments, such as baptism or celebrating the Eucharist. [Many groups of] Quakers also believe in continuing revelation, with the idea that God speaks directly to any person, without the need for any middle-man. For this reason, many deny the idea of priests or holy people, but believe in the priesthood of all believers, and reject the doctrine of sola scriptura. The idea of an inner light (or inward light) of Christ is important to many Quakers: the idea that there is that of God within everyone, guiding them through their lives.

I know, I know, the above is confusing. I hope to list each Quaker denomination, with a doctrinal statement from each denomination regarding the Inner Light and salvation.

Question: why does the EFCI, which claims to believe in salvation through Christ, insist on  associating with non-evangelical, non-believing, “Inner Light”-based Quaker denominations under the umbrella of the FWCC?

The Bible warns us to not associate with unbelievers; the EFCI needs to heed this warning:

14) Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  15) And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16) And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  17) Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.  18) And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (II Cor. 6:14-18, KJV)[emphasis mine]

I find it very interesting that EFCI’s Richard Foster and his mentor Dallas Willard, so knowledgable of Quaker theology and the heretical Inner Light teaching,  pioneered the Spiritual Formation movement. As it turns out, there are many similarities between the Inner Light teaching and Spiritual Formation teachings. And it is no coincidence that Foster and Willard viewed George Fox as a great man with great teachings. What an abomination! I hope to discuss these similarities more in other blogs. For now, here are some links for further research:

1) http://apprising.org/2006/09/28/richard-foster-and-quaker-inner-light/

2) http://apprising.org/2008/08/25/contemplating-the-inner-light-of-the-quakers/

3) http://apprising.org/2008/08/25/contemplating-the-inner-light-of-the-quakers-pt-2/

4) http://apprising.org/2008/10/22/richard-foster-and-quaker-beliefs/

5) http://apprising.org/2008/11/07/quaker-mystic-richard-foster-circumnavigate-inconsistencies-in-the-bible/

6) http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=4659

7) Excerpts from a book by David Cloud. The first section deals with Richard Foster, the Inner Light, and Quakers:

8) The following article discusses heretical aspects of Quakerism, including the Inner Light teaching. I searched for the word “Quaker” in the article and came up with 134 hits:

Click to access from-mysticism-to-the-gospel3.pdf

I also found the article here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/48067967/From-Mysticism-to-the-Gospel-Paul-Dan

9) http://www.danielrevelationbiblestudies.com/020420063.htm

10) The following article has various references to Quakers:

11) This is a expose of Willow Creek Church’s involvement in Spiritual Formation. It makes numerous references to Quakers:

12) Now this is scary – an excerpt from a FUM Quaker article (non-evangelical):
During the month of May [2006], The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible appeared in bookstores…  For Friends, it was a great month; for the first time a study Bible was released that reflected Quaker theology.“There is a great deal of Quaker thinking in this Bible,” stated Richard Foster, Editor. “One of the great gifts Quakerism has is that its greatest treasures are focal and very foundational Quaker insights are found in the pages of this Bible.” [The article goes on to discuss other Quaker involvement with this so-called bible.]
Source: http://www.fum.org/QL/issues/0506/foster.htm

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The EFCI (Evangelical Friends Church International) claims to be a born again, biblically sound denomination. Yet its publisher, Barclay Press, publishes and/or distributes many, many titles which can hardly be considered “born again Christian.” On the contrary, most of its items would be considered theologically liberal. (I’m sure both evangelical and non-evangelical Quakers would agree on this, after perusing the titles.) The following are just a sampling of the titles available. These cover Spiritual Formation, the Emerging/Emergent Church movements, Quaker ecumenism, etc. – all issues that born again, biblically sound Christians strongly oppose:

Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller
Celebration of Discipline, by Richard J. Foster
Contemplative Compassion, by Sarah Butler Berlin (published by Renovare)
Counterfeit Gods, by Timothy Keller
Culture Making, by Andy Couch
Drops Like Stars, by Rob Bell
Everything Must Change, by Brian McLaren
God of Intimacy and Action, by Tony Campolo and Mary Albert Darling
The Irresistible Revolution, by Shane Claiborne
Jesus Wants to Save Christians, by Rob Bell and Don Golden
Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would, by Chad W. Thompson
Sex God, by Rob Bell
A Year With God, by Richard J. Foster & Julia L. Roller

And the liberal books go on and on, ad nauseum.

Here is the link to the Barclay Press online bookstore, where I located the above titles: http://www.barclaypress.com/bookstore/home.php

Also check out this long list of Barclay Press reviews of books they publish and/or distribute.

Bottom line –  Barclay Press seems to have forgotten the “non-liberal”  Friends in its customer base – primarily the EFC-ER (Evangelical Friends Church-Eastern Region). So where should EFC-ER Friends turn for “born again” resources?

My parents pastored in the EFC-ER from approximately 1955 to 2000 (off and on). How many of the books in my above “sample list” would they use – or even approve of? NONE!! Many pastors, church leaders, and attenders in the EFC-ER would disapprove of all of these as well.

The following excerpt provides some clues as to how and why Barclay Press has become so liberal.

Info Desk
About Barclay Press
A Rich History

The Barclay Press office is located in Newberg, Oregon, near the campus of
George Fox University. Since 1959, Barclay Press has served the Friends
Church through the publication of books, pamphlets, curriculum, and
periodicals. For its first 42 years Barclay Press was owned and
operated by Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends. In 2001 the curriculum
publication ministry of Evangelical Friends International (operating as
George Fox Press) merged with Barclay Press. The reorganized Barclay
Press is governed by a board of directors with broad geographic
representation from evangelical Friends.

Source: http://www.barclaypress.com/infodesk.php/about-barclay-press

I assume that this “broad geographic representation” includes individuals from the EFC-ER. Have any of these EFC-ER individuals objected to the liberal items published and/or distributed by Barclay Press? If not, what is their reasoning for not objecting?

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(revised 11/12/13)

I was seriously considering revising this blog, so it would not be as hurtful to my many friends in the EFCI. However, I have decided against toning down the blog; I want to show the exact wording to which a high official in the EFCI responded. (See his comments and my responses at the bottom of this blog.) Note – since then I have added additional statements to my original blog.

Click here for a detailed critique of the EFC-ER and EFCI. And click here for a detailed history of the EFC-ER.
J. Walter Malone [click here for  a brief bio] was the founder of Cleveland Bible Institute, which today is Malone University. Yet today Malone University is being drawn down the same slippery path as many other colleges, seminaries and churches in the EFCI (Evangelical Friends Church International) denomination. All these institutions are being drawn deeper into Spiritual Formation, the Emerging/Emergent/Emergence movements, and ecumenical Quakerism, and other heretical, liberal teachings. Surely J. Walter Malone and other like minded Ohio Evangelical Friends of his era would “roll over in their graves.”  (By the way, J. Walter Malone was a contemporary of one of my favorite born again, biblically sound Ohio Evangelical Friends – Edward Mott –  whom I have written about in other blogs.)

Consider these excerpts from the book entitled The Quakers in America, by Thomas D. Hamm (pp. 58-59):

Not all Gurneyite Friends approved of [liberal Quaker Rufus] Jones or his vision. By 1900, many of the surviving leaders of the Great Revival… were strong critics. They perceived Jones and his sympathizers as unenthusiastic about revivalism and prone to overintellectualizing religion… The most important opponent of Jones, however, was of his generation: J. Walter Malone.

Malone was born into an old Quaker family in southwestern Ohio in 1857 and moved to Cleveland as a young man, where he achieved considerable success in business. He and his wife Emma had become converts to holiness Quakerism, and in 1892 decided to use their wealth to found [Cleveland Bible College], a Bible college or “training school for Christian workers,” as they called it, which eventually became the Friends Bible Institute… The Malones and all of the teachers at Cleveland were deeply suspicious of Quaker modernism. [I wonder if this “deep suspicion” applied to all teachers through the time of the school’s relocation/renaming in 1957.] By questioning the inerrancy of Scripture,[Quaker modernism] threatened the authority of the Bible. By emphasizing the Inner Light, it seemed to minimize the need for definite experiences of conversion and sanctification. By stressing social service and reform, it seemed to suggest that humans could save the world, rather than looking to the Second Coming of Christ. And by dwelling on the mercy and love of God, it seemed to ignore His judgment [emphasis mine; notice how similar the modernist Quaker teachings are to the Emergent Church teachings of today]. In 1902, Malone began publishing a journal, the Soul Winner, to advance his views. In 1905 he changed its name to the Evangelical Friend, which became increasingly outspoken in its attacks on Jones and other modernist Quakers.

Malone and his coadjutors were consciously part of the larger movement in American Protestantism that [in later years] would become known as fundamentalism.

For the next two decades, modernists and holiness Friends struggled for the control of the Five Years Meeting and its yearly meetings. The battle had at least three fronts. One was the personnel of the Five Years Meeting – its central office staff and its missionaries. Central to this struggle was the American Friend, the official organ [edited by Rufus Jones until 1912, then edited by like minded liberal Quakers]. The second front was the Quaker colleges. [Sound familiar? Colleges and seminaries today are one of the main venues in which Spiritual Formation and the Emerging/Emergent Church movements are brainwashing today’s Evangelical Friends youth.] Holiness Friends did their best to exclude modernist teachings from schools like Earlham in Indiana, Whittier in California, Pacific in Oregon, Friends in Kansas, and Penn in Iowa. The results were uneven… [Several following pages are unavailable online – I am hoping to locate this book in a Quaker archive.]



I find it disconcerting that one of J. Walter Malone’s own family seems to have attempted revising history, to paint a different picture of what J. Walter Malone was all about. Specifically Malone’s son-in-law, Dr. Byron L. Osborne (The Malone Story, 1970 edition, p. 223). In years past I have personally had deep respect and admiration for Dr. Osborne, who for a time was  President of Malone College/University). I have recently learned that, apparently, Dr. Osborne revised J. Walter Malone’s story to be a feel-good, non-offensive history (non-offensive to non-evangelical Quakers, that is).

Over the years, assorted Ohio Evangelical Friends have tended to leave out or reinterpret the parts of history in which fundamentalist Gurneyite Quakers battled modernists, including non-evangelical Quakers. They have portrayed all Quakers as “equally Christian” in God’s eyes, whether they were evangelical or non-evangelical. Dr. Osborne seems to have followed this trend. His repainting of his own father-in-law J. Walter Malone seems to have contributed to a conciliatory effort to unite with non-evangelical Quakers in Quaker ecumenism. He has downplayed and/or denied the argumentative, anti-modernist side of J. Walter Malone. In The Malone Story (1970 edition, pp. 21-24), Dr. Osborne presents  a few short quotes trying to prove that J. Walter Malone “was not a controversialist.” He includes a quote from liberal “social gospel” Quaker Rufus Jones implying Jones and J. Walter Malone were on good speaking terms. Yet Dr. Osborne fails to mention the reams of articles in J. Walter Malone’s The Soulwinner and The Evangelical Friend [both periodicals are housed in the Malone University Friends Archives] in which Malone passionately and incessantly condemned non-evangelical Quakers including Rufus Jones.

To summarize, it seems that various Ohio Evangelical Friends have been complicit in reinterpreting or even denying the “negative” anti-modernist side of J. Walter Malone and of Gurneyite Quaker history. For this and other reasons (such as Spiritual Formation and Emerging/Emergent teachings – see below) I personally feel deeply betrayed by these complicit Evangelical Friends whom I once trusted and admired as my denominational leaders.

How pathetic and ironic, that non-evangelical writers have provided detailed  information about the history of fundamentalist/anti-modernist Gurneyite Quakers, whereas Ohio Evangelical Friends/Gurneyite Quaker writers themselves have provided us very scant info and/or revisionist Quaker histories.

To put this in context, this “revision” of the fundamentalist, “controversialist” side of J. Walter Malone was typical of actions being taken in many other evangelical denominations in the twentieth century.

I would say evangelicals between 1900-1970 including the Ohio Evangelical Friends – represented by Dr. Byron Osborne and Dr. Everett L. Cattell among others – went through several steps toward apostasy:

1948 – The Ohio Evangelical Friends took a big step towards losing the fundamentalist-modernist battle when the National Association of Evangelicals was formed. (Although the Evangelical Friends did not join the NAE, they were affected by their teachings.)

1957 – The Ohio Evangelical Friends lost further ground in 1957, with the beginning of the Billy Graham Crusades.

1965 – Another tragic step toward apostasy occurred in 1965, when Ohio Yearly Meeting (Gurneyite) joined with more liberal Yearly Meetings to form what is today the Evangelical Friends Church International (EFCI) denomination.

1970 – The last nail in the coffin was the St. Louis Conference, in which Dr. Cattell insisted on the forming of an ecumenical alliance with non-evangelical Quakers (in spite of opposition from some Ohio Evangelical Friends who were present).

To backtrack a bit: I have had great respect and admiration for Dr. Cattell in years past. It was only recently that I learned Dr. Cattell had been hoping for Quaker ecumenism very early in his life – and strove throughout his life to make this dream come true. I have no doubt that Dr. Cattell and the other Ohio Evangelical Friends/Gurneyite Quakers mentioned here thought highly of the teachings of New Evangelicalism. As with Dr. Osborne, I have felt a deep sense of betrayal and of being deceived upon learning these things about Dr. Cattell.

Fast forward to today’s apostate situation. The Evangelical Friends denomination (EFCI), like many other evangelical denominations, is far different from the denomination of 100 years ago. The gospel message preached by fundamentalist Gurneyite “holiness Friends” such as J. Walter Malone seems to have been lost in the modern apostate sea of Spiritual Formation and the Emerging/Emergent Church movements. The EFCI appears to be condoning (or at least accommodating) not only the false teachings of other Quaker denominations. The EFCI also appears to be condoning the liberal leanings of all of its Regions.  (The Regions outside of the EFC-ER have always tended to be more liberal/ progressive than the EFC-ER (Evangelical Friends Church-Eastern Region, formerly called Ohio Yearly Meeting).

How tragic! I’m sure there are many attenders of Evangelical Friends churches that are concerned about this. But, unlike the fundamentalist-modernist controversy of J. Walter Malone’s day, there are few if any modern Evangelical Friends leaders that have stood up and loudly protested. Referring to the lack of concerned and discerning church leaders throughout evangelicalism today, it has been said:

“Where are the watchmen on the wall?”  (source unknown)

Just a note regarding Cleveland Bible College, and its replacement Malone College/Malone University. How ironic that J. Walter Malone and Dr. Everett Cattell were on opposite sides of the ecumenical Quakerism fence.  J. Walter Malone strongly opposed ecumenical Quaker efforts, while Dr. Cattell pushed strongly for ecumenical Quakerism. The irony lies in the fact that J. Walter Malone founded  Cleveland Bible College, which was relocated and renamed as Malone College in 1957 (and now is named Malone University); Dr. Cattell later became President of Malone College/University.

One final question to those who think I’m being a troublemaker, too critical of the EFCI leadership. If J. Walter Malone were alive today, do you think he would be protesting Spiritual Formation and Emerging/Emergent Church teachings in the EFCI? Of course he would!

For further reading and research, go to the following URL:


You should see about 290 results. Click on “Preview available” on the left, and you should see about 75 results – resources readable online. Many of these online resources show bibliographies listing further resources.

Also, there are various Quaker libraries with archives. I hope to provide a list of these archives elsewhere (along with their websites), perhaps in a separate blog.


J. Walter Malone Collection

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(revised 03/02/12)

Update: I have made an attempt to “tone down” most of my blogs about Evangelical Friends/Quakers, to not be so hurtful to my many friends in the EFCI (and EFC-ER). Yet when I see what is going on, I still feel compelled to speak out. Read on.
Recently I came across some intriquing info about Edward Mott, an Evangelical Friends minister and teacher. To me he seems very biblically sound. And, he was a staunch opponent of  Quakerism ecumenism.

In 1981, Convergent/Emergent Quaker Chuck Fager wrote an interesting article discussing Quaker ecumenism. I am providing an excerpt below.

Fager started off by speaking favorably of Jack Willcuts and Dr. Everett Cattell – two Evangelical Friends leaders who endorsed Quakerism ecumenism. Fager then turned around and described Edward Mott in rather derogatory terms as follows:

“Edward Mott, who was a leading minister and teacher in [Northwest Yearly Meeting] for many years earlier in [the twentieth century], strongly and bitterly opposed any moves toward ecumenical contacts or fellowship among what were then much more fragmented groups of Friends. In his memoir, Sixty Years of Gospel Ministry, published in the late 1940s, he insisted, as he had for decades, that such efforts “cannot have the blessing of the Lord upon them.” In fact, he insisted that “The attempt to fellowship and work with unbelievers [non-evangelical Quaker denominations] spells death. Any conclusion to the contrary is ruinous to all concerned.” He vehemently denounced the efforts to reunite Orthodox and Hicksite Yearly Meetings, which were then nearing success in New England and Philadelphia. He described with considerable relish his address to an “All-Friends Conference” in Oskaloosa, Iowa in 1929, the intention of which he had earlier said was “to thwart the very purpose for which the conference was held, the promotion of fellowship among the groups.” He was also a fervent and relentless opponent of the American Friends Service Committee, for having undertaken work for peace and justice on other than an exclusively evangelistic basis, and particularly for its role in setting up the Oskaloosa meeting.” (Source: http://afriendlyletter.com/AFL-archives/AFL-archives/006-AFL-%209-1981.pdf)

Mott warned of the apostasy Evangelical Friends would be swallowed up in, should they become a part of Quaker ecumenism. Evangelical Friends leaders failed to heed his warning. In 1970, at the St. Louis Conference on the Future of Friends, Evangelical Friends leader Dr. Cattell and others went ahead with plans for Quaker ecumenism. This, in spite of the fact that many Evangelical Friends in 1970 opposed this move.

I hope to locate additional resources by and about Edward Mott. He was an excellent role model for the rest of us concerned Evangelical Friends. Truly he was a man of vision and a man of God.


…  in 1927 …  a group of 11 Quaker Evangelicals met in a YMCA in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to discuss ways to counter theological liberalism within the Society of Friends. The convener of the group was Edward Mott of Oregon, a leading Quaker fundamentalist voice. These Quaker leaders targeted organizations supported by mainline Quakers, such as the American Friends Service Committee, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, and the National Council of Churches, as symbols of liberalizing trends within Quakerism. (Source: William Kostlevy, Historical Dictionary of the Holiness Movement, p. 109)

FURTHER RESOURCES by and about Edward Mott:

The Friends Church in the Light of Its Recent History, by Edward Mott (Portland, OR, self published, 1935, ASIN: B004D67XUM)

The Inner Light versus Christ, The Light, by Edward Mott [a booklet]

Sixty Years of Gospel Ministry, by Edward Mott

Through Flaming Sword, by Arthur O. Roberts (can preview many pages online)

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